Ask Molly

Trainers for large folks

Q. I am 44 years old, 5-3 and weigh 200 pounds. I'm trying to locate a personal trainer experienced in working with significantly overweight women. I was in fairly good shape until my mid-30s, have had a positive response to weight training, but have not been on a consistent exercise plan for about five years, other than sporadic and moderate walking. I have prior experience with gyms and trainers (when I wasn't as overweight) and know I need to be careful to not overextend my out-of-shape body and injure myself. I'm also wary of folks who push diet supplements, etc. as "the answer." It would be great to find someone who has a combination of expertise in safe weight-loss management, weight training, orthopedics/sports injury prevention for the obese, middle-aged woman.

— S.H.

A. Many trainers have experience working with large folks, but over the years I've heard of only a few actual specialists. Two locals include Vikki Cole ( and Kim Williams-Brinck (206-367-9966;

Other thoughts:

• Though the Free To Be Fit program revolves around group aerobics classes for large women and led by large women, you might be able to connect with one of their trainers through the YMCAs where classes are held: University (5003 12th Ave. N.E.; 206-524-1400), Fauntleroy (9260 California Ave. S.W.; 206-937-1000) and Bellevue (14230 Bel-Red Road; 425-746-9900). For more information:

• People with heart disease or related risk factors (including obesity) sometimes can be referred by their physicians to hospital-based centers where they can begin safe exercise and nutrition programs.

• The PRO Sports Club in Bellevue (425-885-5566) has a program called 20/20 Lifestyles that's available to both members and nonmembers. Designed by club owner Dr. Mark Dedomencio, it's a 10-week, multidisciplinary, behavior-modification program for weight management and overcoming metabolic disorders. It includes a personal trainer, weekly one-on-one meetings with a dietician and one-on-one and group meetings with a psychologist.

• Two books that might be helpful are "Great Shape: The First Fitness Guide for Large Women," by Pat Lyons and Debby Burgard ($16.95) and "Real Fitness for Real Women: A Unique Workout Program for the Plus-Size Woman," by Rochelle Rice ($14.95).

• The Internet's Frequently Asked Questions about Exercise and Fitness Resources for Big Folks ( hasn't been updated recently but still contains some useful information on equipment, books, videos, clothing, classes, organizations and research.

• The Greater Portland YWCA offers a program for large people called the New Face of Fitness. For information: Rene Swar, 503-294-7421.

Hanging upside down

Q. I'm interested in those machines that let you hang upside down but I'd like to try one out instead of just buying something out of a catalog. Any idea where I should go?

— M.H.

A. You can go to or call 800-847-0143 to contact Hang Ups Inversion Products, which happens to be based in Puyallup. You can search for retailers by city, state, Zip code or area code; 20 are listed for Washington state.

Rowing in water, indoors

Q. More than a few years back you wrote an article about a water-resistance rowing machine available from a craftsman on Vashon Island. Can you give me a way to contact him?

— M.M.

A. Bob Campbell of Bainbridge Island is one local representative for WaterRower (, a nice-looking machine of ash, cherry or black walnut made in Rhode Island and England. Resistance comes from real water in a tank; the machine can be tilted up, wheeled away and leaned against a wall when not in use. It sells for $995, including an electronic monitor. Campbell, who can be reached at 206-842-3367 or, has a standing offer to pick up anyone interested in a demonstration at the Bainbridge ferry dock. Omni Fitness, which has several local outlets, also carries the WaterRower.

Finally, to follow up on a reader's question on review courses for fitness-trainer-certification exams, sites for formal preparation include curricula at Seattle Pacific University, University of Puget Sound, Pacific Lutheran University, Renton Technical College, Lake Washington Technical College and Ashmead College.

On the shelves

"Mayo Clinic on Healthy Weight," edited by Donald Hensrud ($14.95, Mayo Clinic). An M.D. specializing in weight management outlines a solid nutrition, exercise and lifestyle program using the Minnesota clinic's Healthy Weight Pyramid.

"Becoming Vegan" by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina($16.95, Book Publishing Co.). The dietitian authors of "Becoming Vegetarian" take it one step further with an overview of the health benefits and myths of a vegan diet, along with advice for getting sufficient protein, calcium and vitamin B12 and diets for infants, children, pregnant and lactating moms, seniors, athletes and those with weight issues.

"The Accidental Vegan" by Devra Gartenstein ($14.95, The Crossing Press). The founder of The Lucky Palate, a Seattle vegan catering business, presents 163 easy-to-read recipes, many of them likewise easy to prepare, with a half-dozen steps or less.

Club, trainer e-mail addresses wanted

I'm collecting e-mail addresses of local fitness clubs and fitness instructors for checking classes, services, programs, etc. Please send e-mail addresses for clubs (with contact names) and instructors or trainers (with club affiliations, if any) to

Molly Martin is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine. She can be reached by calling 206-464-8243, e-mailing or writing P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111.